How to Improve English at Lunchtime


Do you want to improve your English? Chances are that others in your workplace do too. Why not set up an English table at lunchtime? Here are some tips for having a successful lunchtime English practice:

  1. If you can, have a variety of first language backgrounds represented. It’s easier to speak in English if you don’t all speak the same first language. If you do all speak the same first language, (or even if you don’t) appoint someone as the monitor. Every time someone speaks another language, collect some money in the “language jar”. Use the money to buy a nice dessert or other treat for the next lunch!
  2. Decide on the purpose of the English table. Do you want to improve communication in your own department? Do you want to meet people from other departments? It’s easier to speak in English if you have a real purpose for communication. Choose a topic that will be relevant to the people who participate. Each week, you can have a follow-up topic or another topic altogether.
  3. Invite a guest speaker. Choose someone who is a native speaker of English for a short talk that will spark a conversation afterwards. (Make sure the talk part doesn’t take more than 10 minutes – otherwise, it will be a listening practice, rather than a speaking one).
  4. Coordinate with HR and choose a topic that will be interesting to a group of people in the company. Maybe you want to discuss the issues of working parents. Maybe you want to have more experienced employees discuss mentoring techniques. Again, choosing a topic that brings people together is more likely to have people continue to attend and stay interested.
  5. Don’t correct each other, unless people specifically request it. Most people, especially if they aren’t confident with their language skills, will shut down if they are corrected a lot.

The most important tip is to make sure you have fun and have ongoing reasons to communicate. The more useful and fun the activity is, the more likely it is that people will continue.

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